Friday, December 27, 2019

Researching in the Lost State of Franklin, 1785 - 1788

8FranklinCounties.png (1340×1029)
Smithsonian
Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee
We tease in the a3Genealogy researchers world, that dealing with records between 1785 - 1791, those four - five dreadful years of indecision, independence and defeat, in the "lost state of Franklin" will lead you down a never-ending rabbit hole.  It was not until recently that I realized that we have never posted about this research conundrum that has few answers, but with a bit of digging, you may ferret out your State of Franklin ensconced ancestors. (In Spanish the word is literally "escondido" - hidden).

But, regardless of how you describe it, many researches just caste out this western North Carolina & eastern Tennessee regional area's research challenges as the "Appalachian" puzzlement." (Say that fast five times - "Appalachian puzzlement)." What researchers fail to realize is that due to the independence of what now would be considered an eight county region in northeastern Tennessee historically 1) was part of North Carolina 2) operated independently for four years, 1785 - 1788 as its own "quasi-state" which was presented but denied statehood by the Continental Congress.

If all would have gone well, our 14th state "would have been" the State of Franklin.

Yes, this denied state, the state of Franklin, never made it to realization, but operated independently for about 4 years.  And, its citizens, our ancestors, left a papertrail.  An unorganized, uncompiled, incomplete, illogically placed papertrail, but somewhat of a papertrail nonetheless.  So let's go hunting for our ancestors in the state of Franklin - let's say between 1785 - 1791 (see the First Family Papers below).

Where to Begin
1)  History.  The not-quite -formed State of Franklin must be understood.   Be sure to understand the issues, formations, and fall of what would have been the state of Franklin. Even though it was never ratified, it surely left our proud ancestors' paperwork.
2) Land Grants. Partial Census of 1787 to 1791 of Tennessee as taken from the North Carolina Land Grants is a great source for reconstructing a census, and the inhabitants.
  • Family Search digitized film #1728882, item 4, or 
    Family search digitized film #1683130 item 3.
3) Proven First Families.
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Sometimes, we just want to see our ancestors in the right place at the right time.  Just a glimpse of their whereabouts. If you are wishing to get an alphabetically compiled list of surnames for First Families of Franklin Ancestors (updated 1993) visit the a3Genealogy First Families of Franklin Ancestors page.  This list was provided by Tipton - Haynes State Historic Site.

4) County Records & Archives. Of course records were created in North Carolina, especially land records. The counties of Sullivan, and Washington  Tennessee, (originally in North Carolina) have scattered records, some digitized. Marriages, deeds, wills and other court records can still be located within the counties of Washington County and Sullivan County, now Tennessee. Be sure to scour the records of the eight counties as well as both states.

Tennessee Historical Society, TN. State Library & Archives
Well, we are currently straddling the New Year. We wanted to start with something old, yet new for many.  Keep digging and if you uncover your own State of Franklin lost ancestor, be sure to let us know (with proven docs of course).

Happy New Year 2020
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com

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